Forcing Clarity

It never fails, once I start thinking of a new word the lessons surrounding my previous word increase. Its as though God is operating on His own timeline rather than mine – this shouldnt surprise me. Suddenly, I start feeling as though Im not ready for a new word. I question whether I gave last years word enough consideration. Did I journal enough? Have I really adopted it as a mindset the way I had planned to?

This way of thinking can overwhelm us when picking a new word, especially when trying to sum up everything that we still need to work on with just one. For example, this year, I want to continue working on being the best husband and father I can be, I want to be better at serving others, I want to be more active in ministry, and the list goes on. Finding a word that encapsulates all of the things that are important to me this year isnt easy, and Ive been more grateful than ever that we have until February 1st to decide.

When we seek to improve our life in any way our tendency is to look deeper and deeper into ourselves until we find an answer. I want to do the opposite. There is one word that keeps coming to mind during my quiet time – understanding. Its a good word but I want to spend less time being introspective and more time being outwardly active in my faith.

So, as reluctant as I was to choose understanding as my word, I decided to at least spend some time with it and begin praying for more understanding about what God wants to do in my life; He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). A couple of weeks have passed and Ive come to understand that God has been using my previous word, temple, to position me for this new year.

My final word came to me while looking over some of my past journal entries and study notes. Early in the year I was studying the temple that king Solomon, and the people of Israel, had built for God. The following verse was scribbled on the page:

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. (2 Chronicles 7:1)

Then it hits me, the person who I want to be this year can only be realized in His glory. I must come to understand that, like the temple in 2 Chronicles, when God fills me with His glory it comes down like a consuming fire. All of the frustration, anxiety, or doubt of choosing a new word or expectations of who I want to be this year, is reduced to ash. The only thing left is the glory of what God is doing at this moment, on His timeline. So, my one word for 2011 is Glory.

For some, picking a word might be easy, but for most of us it requires much prayer and consideration. How I have come to pick my one word is a testament to the importance of journaling. By looking back on the past year, and what the Spirit has taught me, I have gained a better understanding of where He is leading me this year.

If you are struggling to pick a word, or even narrow down your options, I encourage you to reflect on where you’ve been and how God might be continuing to use your past words. Of course the best advice I can give anyone on picking a word is to just ask God for His advice.

  • Lisa Steen

    My one word is self control, I just picked it yesterday. My prayer was that God give me the strenght to take this word on….. HEAD ON! Today through Gods message to me in your post, He answered the first of many prayers I will say over the next year regarding “my one word” His message was John 3: 30 He must increase and I must decrease. Praise Him through whom all blessings flow. May God Bless you JR Jones!

    • JR Jones

      Lisa, I am sensing a theme, with several people, of wanting to take radical steps to put Christ first in their lives, regardless of having completely different words. I think that self-control is a good step in that direction and a practical way of living out John 3:30 – great word!